Second class township code, the




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Compiler's Note:  The act of July 12, 1972 (P.L.762, No.180), referred to as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law, was repealed by the act of December 19, 1996 (P.L.1158, No.177). The subject matter is now contained in 53 Pa.C.S. Ch. 23 Subch. A (relating to intergovernmental cooperation).

Section 2206.  Expenses for Maintenance.--All expenses incurred in the operation of parks, recreation areas and facilities are payable from the general township fund or from the treasury of the municipal corporations, counties or school districts under the agreement of the corporate authorities.

Section 2207.  Forest Lands.--(a)  Townships may acquire, by purchase, gift or lease, and hold tracts of land covered with forest or tree growth, or suitable for the growth of trees, and administer the tracts under the direction of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. The tracts may be of any size suitable for the purpose and may be located inside or outside the township limits.

(b)  When the board of supervisors intends to acquire any lands for forests, it shall so declare by an ordinance, setting forth all facts and conditions relating to the proposed action.

(c)  Upon the acquisition of any forests or lands suitable for forests, the board of supervisors shall notify the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources which may make rules for the government and proper administration of the lands as may be necessary. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources shall publish the rules, declare the uses of the forest under the intent of this article and make provision for its administration, maintenance, protection and development as necessary. The rules governing the administration of the forests shall have for their main purpose the producing of a continuing township revenue by the sale of forest products.

(d)  All revenue and emoluments arising from the forests shall be paid into the general township fund.

(e)  Township forests may be used by the public as general outing or recreation grounds, subject to the rules of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources governing their administration and rules adopted by the board of supervisors not inconsistent with law and the rules of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

(f)  When the board of supervisors decides to sell or lease any township forest, or part thereof, it shall so declare by an ordinance, setting forth all the facts and conditions relating to the proposed action. No ordinance shall be effective until it has been approved by a majority vote of the electorate at the next ensuing municipal or general election. Nothing in this subsection shall prohibit the board of supervisors, at its discretion, by resolution, from allowing the selective harvesting of forest products for the purpose of properly caring for and maintaining a township forest.

(g)  The board of supervisors may, on behalf of the township, accept the title to lands which may be donated to the township for any of the purposes mentioned in this article.

 

ARTICLE XXIII



ROADS, STREETS, BRIDGES AND HIGHWAYS

 

Section 2301.  Road and Bridge Maintenance, Repair and Construction.--(a)  The board of supervisors may purchase or hire materials, equipment, machinery and implements necessary for the construction, repair and maintenance of roads and bridges and make and maintain bridges over streams, gullies, canals and railroads where bridges are necessary for the ease and safety of travelers. The bridges shall be deemed to be a part of the road.



(b)  The board of supervisors may for adequate consideration construct, reconstruct, improve or maintain driveways on lands owned or occupied by school districts in the township.

(c)  The board of supervisors may construct, reconstruct and improve and contract for the construction, reconstruction and improvement of roads in the township.

(d)  The board of supervisors may for adequate consideration contract with the Commonwealth, a county or a municipal corporation to construct, reconstruct, improve or maintain public roads or highways under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, a county or a municipal corporation. Contracts executed under this subsection need not be submitted to the Local Government Commission for review under the act of July 12, 1972 (P.L.762, No.180), referred to as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law.

(e)  The board of supervisors may employ one or more roadmasters. The roadmasters are subject to removal by the board of supervisors.

 

Compiler's Note:  The act of July 12, 1972 (P.L.762, No.180), referred to as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Law, referred to in subsec. (d), was repealed by the act of December 19, 1996 (P.L.1158, No.177). The subject matter is now contained in 53 Pa.C.S. Ch. 23 Subch. A (relating to intergovernmental cooperation).

Section 2302.  Duties of Roadmasters.--The roadmasters shall:

(1)  Report to the board of supervisors any information that may be required by the board of supervisors and by the Department of Transportation.

(2)  Inspect all roads and bridges as directed by the board of supervisors.

(3)  Do or direct to be done all work necessary to carry out the responsibilities imposed by the board of supervisors with respect to the maintenance, repair and construction of township roads.

Section 2303.  Road Complaints.--If any complaint alleges that the public roads and highways of any township are not maintained in accordance with law, the court may appoint three persons who shall examine the highways and report the findings to the court. In these cases, the complainants shall first enter security, in a sum as the court may fix, to pay all costs.

Section 2304.  Power to Lay Out, Open, Widen, Vacate, Et Cetera.--(a)  The board of supervisors may by ordinance enact, ordain, survey, lay out, open, widen, straighten, vacate and relay all roads and bridges and parts thereof which are located wholly or partially within the township.

(b)  The board of supervisors may by ordinance provide for the widening, straightening or improvement of a State highway, with the consent of the Department of Transportation, and may spend township funds in connection therewith.

(c)  When any petition is presented to the board of supervisors requesting the board of supervisors to open or vacate a specific road in the township and the board of supervisors fails to act on the petition within sixty days, the petitioners may present their petition to the court of common pleas which shall proceed thereon under the act of June 13, 1836 (P.L.551, No.169), referred to as the General Road Law. If the board of supervisors acts on the petition but denies the request of the petition, the board of supervisors shall notify the person designated in the petition of its denial. If the request of the petition is denied, the petitioners, or a majority of them, may within thirty days after receipt of the notice petition the court of common pleas for the appointment of viewers and proceedings shall be taken thereon under the General Road Law.

(d)  No road shall be laid out and opened through any burial ground or cemetery, nor through any grounds occupied by a building used as a place for public worship or as a public or parochial school, educational or charitable institution or seminary, unless the consent of the owner of the premises is first secured. If the owner is unknown, this prohibition does not apply.

Section 2305.  Hearing; Report; Exceptions Thereto; View and Notice.--(a)  Before the passage of any ordinance for the laying out, opening, changing or vacating of any road or highway or section thereof, the board of supervisors shall give ten days' written notice to the owners of property adjacent to the road or portions thereof involved of the time and place set for a hearing on the proposed ordinance.

(b)  If the board of supervisors votes in favor of exercising the power, it shall enact the necessary ordinance and file a copy of the ordinance, together with a draft or survey of the road showing the location and width thereof, in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas.

(c)  Any resident or property owner affected by the ordinance may within thirty days after the enactment of the ordinance of the board of supervisors, upon entering in the court sufficient surety to indemnify the board of supervisors for all costs incurred in the proceedings, file exceptions to the ordinance together with a petition for a review. Upon receipt of the exception and surety, the court of common pleas shall appoint viewers from the county board of viewers for the purpose of reviewing the ordinance and exceptions thereto.

(d)  After the expiration of the term allowed for filing exceptions or upon the order of the court upon disposition of any exceptions, the court of common pleas, on application by petition by the board of supervisors or any person interested, shall appoint three viewers from the county board of viewers to assess the damages and benefits occasioned by the proceeding unless the damages and benefits are otherwise agreed upon.

Section 2306.  Width of Public Roads.--The width of the right-of-way of a public road in townships shall not be less than thirty-three feet or more than one hundred and twenty feet, and the width of the right-of-way of alleys opened by the township as public roads shall not be less than fifteen feet. The minimum required width shall be in addition to any width required for necessary slopes in cuts or fills.

Section 2307.  Certain Roads Declared Public Roads.--(a)  Every road which has been used for public travel and maintained and kept in repair by the township for a period of at least twenty-one years is a public road having a right-of-way of thirty-three feet even though there is no public record of the laying out or dedication for public use of the road.

(b)  In any proceeding pursuant to this section, any relevant oral or documentary evidence of public travel or maintenance and repairs by the township shall, if presented, be considered, including, but not limited to:

(i)  Maps or surveys which are either generated by any governmental unit or are created pursuant to any judicial proceeding of the courts of this Commonwealth.

(ii)  Evidence concerning the distribution of government funds to the township pursuant to the act of June 1, 1956 (1955 P.L.1944, No.655), referred to as the "Liquid Fuels Tax Municipal Allocation Law."

(iii)  Approved subdivision plans, deeds or other documents containing a designation of the road as either a township road or otherwise.

(iv)  Evidence that the road is an extension from a public road or public cul-de-sac, a throughway between other municipal or State roads or provides the only access to a municipal boundary line.

(v)  Court orders, decisions, findings of fact or other matters of judicial record relating to public or private rights in the road.

(c)  For purposes of this section:

(i)  The frequency of use of a road may be considered relevant in any proceeding pursuant to this section, but, in the absence of additional findings on the purpose of such use, shall not alone be sufficient to establish that the road has been used for public travel.

(ii)  The condition or sufficiency of the road surface for public travel may be considered relevant in any proceeding pursuant to this section, but, absent additional findings of actual public maintenance and repair, shall not alone be sufficient to establish maintenance and repair by the township.

(d)  Nothing in this section shall be construed as affecting the weight or persuasiveness of any evidence presented in accordance with subsection (b) or the relevance of any evidence presented except as otherwise provided in this section.

(e)  In any proceeding in which this section is relied upon to allege the existence of a public road, the proponent of the public status of the road shall present evidence first, and the burden shall then shift to the opponent to present evidence to refute the public status of the road.

(2307 amended Oct. 9, 2008, P.L.1520, No.126)

Section 2308.  Opening, Repairing and Closing Roads.--(a)  Public roads in townships shall, as soon as practicable, be effectually opened. All public roads shall at all seasons be kept in repair and reasonably clear of all impediments to easy and convenient traveling at the expense of the township.

(b)  The board of supervisors may temporarily close any township road when it determines that conditions have rendered that road unfit or unsafe for travel and immediate repair or maintenance, because of the time of year or other conditions, is impracticable. The road or portion of road closed shall be properly marked at its extremities, and a means of passage for the customary users of the road shall, when possible, be provided.

(c)  Anyone using the road or portion thereof after the road has been properly closed and marked, without a permit from the board of supervisors, commits a summary offense. All fines recovered are payable to the general township fund. Persons who have no outlet due to the closing of a road may drive on, over or across the road with the written consent of, and subject to conditions imposed by, the board of supervisors or their agents or contractors without being subject to the penalties imposed by this section.

Section 2309.  Time Within Which Roads to be Opened.--When proceedings have been initiated under this act for the opening and laying out of any public road in the township, the road shall be physically opened for use by the public within a period of five years after completion of the proceeding. If the road is not opened or if no proceedings have been commenced to compel the opening in five years, then the proceedings are void and the land proposed to be taken shall revert to the owners of the land free of any easement or right of the public to use the land.

Section 2310.  Detours.--(a)  Except for emergencies, no public road shall be closed to traffic except upon order of the board of supervisors, and no public road shall be closed to traffic when it has been designated as a detour by the Department of Transportation unless the written consent of the Department of Transportation is first obtained or unless the board of supervisors by resolution declares the closing necessary for the protection of the public safety.

(b)  When any public road is closed, the board of supervisors shall designate a detour on which shall be erected and maintained while the detour is in use legible direction signs at each public road intersection through the length of the detour. When the detour is in use, the board of supervisors shall maintain the detour in safe and passable condition, except for State and county highways. The board of supervisors shall immediately remove all detour signs when the road that was originally closed is open for traffic. Except for State and county highways, the board of supervisors may acquire, by agreement or right of eminent domain, right-of-way privileges over private property for the period when the road is closed to traffic. In the exercise of the rights conferred by this section, the board of supervisors may pay for the necessary maintenance, subsequent repair and land rental.

(c)  Any person who removes, defaces, destroys or disregards any barricade, light, danger sign, detour sign or warning of any other character whatsoever erected or placed under authority of this section or who drives on, over or across any road which has been properly closed commits a summary offense.

(d)  In addition to the penalties imposed by this section, the board of supervisors may in an action at law recover damages from any person or persons who have damaged a road by driving on the road when it is closed to vehicular traffic under this act.

(e)  All fines and moneys collected under this section shall be paid to the township treasurer.

Section 2311.  Relocating or Vacating Roads by Agreement.--(a)  When the board of supervisors relocates or vacates any part of any public road under its supervision and can agree with the property owners affected by the relocation or vacation, it may relocate or vacate the public road without the formality of a view.

(b)  A copy of the agreement setting forth the facts regarding the relocation or vacation, accompanied by a map or draft of the road agreed to be relocated or vacated, shall be presented and recorded in the office of the recorder of deeds or similar office in home rule counties after which the new location is the public road or the old location is vacated.

Section 2312.  Elimination of Curves; Acquisition of Views.--(a)  Any township may acquire, by purchase or by the right of eminent domain, any property and lands along or adjacent to any township road that may be necessary to eliminate dangerous curves and widen roads and provide a free and unobstructed view over lands located at or near the intersection of any two roads or highways, or a road and a railroad or railway, or at any curve in any road, for the better protection and safety to the traveling public.

(b)  The proceedings for the condemnation of the property or land and for the assessment of damages for property or land taken, injured or destroyed shall be taken under Article XXXIV.

Section 2313.  Roads in or near Public Parks.--(a)  The board of supervisors may contract with the Commonwealth, a county or a municipal corporation owning and operating parks inside the township to establish, relocate, alter or vacate public roads inside or contiguous to those parks. The board of supervisors shall take no action with respect to the public roads without the written consent and agreement of the Commonwealth, county or municipal corporation owning and operating the parks. Any road when altered or relocated under this section shall be maintained and repaired the same as other township roads.

(b)  The agreement shall be adopted by ordinance, and, within thirty days, the road shall be a public road of the township.

(c)  The owner of any land through which any public road may be located or relocated may apply by petition to the court of common pleas, setting forth the injury which has been sustained by reason of the relocation of the public road, and the proceedings relative to the assessment and payment of damages of the landowner shall be under this act for eminent domain.

Section 2314.  Petition of Property Owners for Improvements.--(a)  Any township may improve any public street in the township upon the petition of property owners representing a majority in number of feet front of the properties abutting on the street proposed to be improved at the expense of the property owners.

(b)  The cost of the improvement may be collected from the owners of the real estate abutting on the street or highway, or part thereof, by an equal assessment on the foot-front basis.

(c)  The assessments for improvement shall be filed with the township treasurer under section 3302(a).

(d)  The term "owner," as used in this section, means all individuals and public or private corporations, copartnerships and associations having title in the assessed property. If the owner is a nonresident of the township and the place of residence is unknown or if the ownership of the property cannot be ascertained, the notice shall be posted on the premises and a copy shall be left with the occupant, if any.

Section 2315.  Improvements Without Petition.--(a)  The board of supervisors may by ordinance provide for the construction, reconstruction, repair or other improvements to any public street in the township.

(b)  The cost of improvements may be collected from the owners of the real estate abutting on the street or highway, or part thereof, by an equal assessment on the foot-front basis; but in no instance shall any abutting property owner be liable for the cost of improvements in an amount greater than fifteen percent of the assessed valuation of the abutting property: Provided, further, with respect to any property used exclusively for forestry purposes, for agricultural purposes, or for both as of the time of the assessment, That the assessment shall be based upon the actual foot frontage of such property or one hundred and fifty feet, whichever is less. Any expense above the maximum liability of abutting property owners shall be paid by the township.

(c)  All assessments for improvements shall be filed with the township treasurer under section 3302(a).

(d)  If abutting property owners fail to pay the expenses of the improvements for which they are liable, the board of supervisors may recover the amount by action of assumpsit or may file municipal liens therefor against the abutting properties under law for the filing and collection of municipal liens.

Section 2316.  Acceptance of Land for Road Purposes.--(a)  The board of supervisors may by resolution accept any land dedicated by deed to the township to be used as a road, street or alley. A copy of the resolution, together with a draft or survey of the road, street or alley, showing location and width thereof, shall be filed with the clerk of the court of common pleas.

(b)  When plans of dedicated roads, streets or alleys located in townships have been approved and recorded under this article, the board of supervisors may by resolution accept any roads, streets or alleys as public roads if shown in the plans as dedicated to that use and if the roads or streets are not less than thirty-three feet in width and the alleys are not less than fifteen feet in width.

(c)  Upon the filing with the clerk of court of common pleas of the county a certified and attested copy of the resolution, the roads, streets or alleys become a part of the public road system of the township and shall be so recorded in the court.

Section 2317.  Approval of Plans.--(a)  No person shall construct, open or dedicate any road or any drainage facilities for public use or travel without first submitting plans thereof to the board of supervisors for its approval. The plans shall be prepared under rules and regulations adopted by the board of supervisors and shall show the profiles of the roads, the course, structure and capacity of any drainage facilities, the method of drainage of the adjacent or contiguous territory and any other details that may be required under the rules or regulations adopted by the board of supervisors. The board of supervisors may alter the plans and specify any changes or modifications of any kind and may make its approval of the plans subject to those alterations, changes or modifications. The plans when so approved shall be signed by the board of supervisors, and a copy shall be filed with the secretary of the township. No road or drainage facilities shall be opened, constructed or dedicated for public use or travel except in compliance with plans approved by the board of supervisors and until the approved plan is recorded as required in this section.

(b)  If the board of supervisors refuses to approve any plans submitted to it under this section, any person aggrieved by the action of the board of supervisors may within thirty days appeal to the court of common pleas. The court shall hear the matter de novo and, after hearing, may enter a decree affirming, reversing or modifying the action of the board of supervisors.

(c)  The action of the board of supervisors, or of the court on appeal, in approving any plans shall be recorded by the person applying for the approval in the office of the recorder of deeds of the county.

(d)  No person shall present to the recorder of deeds any plan which has not been approved by the board of supervisors. Approval shall be so indicated on the plan presented for recording.

(e)  If any road or any drainage facilities are opened, constructed or dedicated for public use or travel, except in compliance with plans approved and recorded, neither the board of supervisors nor any public authorities shall be required to place, construct or operate any sewer, drain, water pipe or other facilities or do any work of any kind in or upon that road; and neither the board of supervisors nor any other public authorities have any responsibility of any kind with respect to the road or drainage facilities even if they are in use by the public. Nothing in this act shall prevent the laying of trunk sewers, drains or water or gas mains if required by engineering necessity for the accommodation of other territory.

(f)  Any person who constructs, opens or dedicates any road or any drainage facilities in connection therewith for public use or travel in any township without having first complied with this section and any resolutions of the board of supervisors commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and is subject to a suit for all costs and damages incurred by the township or property owners in the course of correcting all substantive violations of State or municipal law or regulations resulting from or arising out of the unlawfully recorded plan. All fines and moneys so recovered shall be paid to the township treasurer.

(g)  No approval of plans by the board of supervisors shall obligate or require the township to construct, reconstruct, maintain, repair or grade the roads.

Section 2318.  Markers and Monuments.--The board of supervisors and its agents may enter any land and property and maintain marks and monuments in carrying out its powers and duties under this article.

Section 2319.  Powers of State and Counties Preserved.--Nothing contained in this article shall be held to restrict or limit the Department of Transportation or any county in the exercise of any of its duties, powers and functions under any State law.

Section 2320.  Power to Open Drains and Ditches.--(a)  The board of supervisors or its agents may enter any lands or enclosures and cut, open, maintain and repair drains or ditches through the property when necessary to carry the water from the roads.

(b)  Any person who damages or diverts any drain or ditch without the authority of the board of supervisors commits a summary offense and is liable for the cost of restoring the drain or ditch. All fines and moneys so recovered shall be paid to the township treasurer.

Section 2321.  Railroad Crossings.--(a)  Every township constructing a road across a railroad shall construct the road above or below the grade thereof unless permitted by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to construct the road at grade.

(b)  Any crossing of a railroad by a road or any vacation of any road crossing a railroad shall be made only under the jurisdiction of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Compensation for damages to the owners of adjacent property taken, injured or destroyed shall be determined under 66 Pa.C.S. (relating to public utilities).

Section 2322.  Permits.--No railroad or street railway shall be constructed upon any township road, nor shall any railroad or street railway crossings, driveway connections, gas pipe, water pipe, electric conduits or other piping be laid upon or in, nor shall any telephone, telegraph or electric light or power poles or any coal tipples or any other obstructions be erected upon or in, any portion of a township road except under conditions, restrictions and regulations specified in permits granted by the township for that purpose. Each application shall be submitted to the township in duplicate. The township shall collect a fee as determined by the Department of Transportation for processing the application and another fee for making the inspection. Each application shall be accompanied by both fees. When the township grants the permit, the board of supervisors or its agents shall inspect the work authorized by the permit upon the completion thereof and, when necessary, enforce compliance with the conditions, restrictions and regulations specified by the township. In addition to that inspection, the board of supervisors or its agents may reinspect the work not more than two years after its completion, and, if any settlement of the road surface or other defect appears in the work contrary to the conditions, restrictions and regulations of the township, it may enforce compliance therewith. If the applicant fails to rectify a defect which presents an immediate or imminent safety or health problem within forty-eight hours or any other defect within sixty days after written notice from the board of supervisors to do so, the board of supervisors or its agents may do the work and impose upon the applicant the cost thereof, together with an additional twenty percent of the cost, which may be recovered by an action in assumpsit in the court of common pleas of the county. All fees received by the township shall be paid into the township treasury. Nothing in this section shall be construed to require a permit in advance for emergency repairs necessary for the safety of the public or the restoration or continuance of public utility service or other public service, but application for the permit and the fees shall be submitted within five days after completion of the work, after which time the remaining provisions of this section apply. Nothing in this section authorizes a township to regulate or control the operations of any permittee except under this section.

 

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